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Know Your KU History: Alonzo Jamison

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'Zo

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone seems to have a claim to fame or connection when it comes to the Kansas basketball program. Whether its having a class with one of the stars of the hard court, waiting tables at a local Lawrence restaurant when members of the team are eating, or delivering pizzas to a player’s apartment, many people that attended KU have had close contact to the basketball elite. For one of my friends, that connection is purchasing Alonzo Jamison’s car. Ignore the fact that the car was a rundown Pontiac Sunfire (or some other equally crappy 1980’s American-made hatchback), and that it was absolutely run into the ground by my friend culminating in some graduation night antics that put it to permanent sleep in our driveway. Forget all that. This car used to belong to Alonzo Jamison. He played in the Final Four. He was a defensive stalwart for Roy Williams. Owning his car was special.

Alonzo Jamison joined the KU team in time for the 1989-90 season. After the probation season of 88-89, Roy Williams depended on transfers to rebuild the KU program. "Downtown" Terry Brown transferred from NE Oklahoma A&M and Jamison transferred to KU from Rancho Santiago Junior College in his home state of California.

After a pedestrian first year for KU in 89-90 (Jamison’s sophomore campaign), the 6’6" forward blossomed into a star for KU. During that junior season, ‘Zo averaged 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, but his forte was stealing the ball. Alonzo Jamison produced 80 steals in the 1990-91 season and proved his value during KU’s deep run in the NCAA tournament that year.

Despite owning a 22-7 record and earning a #3 seed in the southeast region, Kansas was not seen as a threat to escape the second weekend with powerhouse Indiana waiting as a #2 seed in the sweet sixteen game. Jamison contributed 14 points on seven of ten shooting and KU blew away the Hoosiers 83-65.

Even after the dismantling of Bobby Knight’s squad, Kansas was heavy underdogs against the highly rated and #1 seed, Arkansas Razorbacks. But thanks to Jamison’s game-high 26 points on 11 of 14 shooting, and some great defense (KU was down by 12 at the half and outscored Arkansas by 24 in the second, limiting the high flying Razorbacks to just 34 points in the second frame), KU was off to the Final Four. For his efforts, Jamison was named the region’s Most Outstanding Player.

KU went on to beat #1 seed North Carolina before losing the title decider to Duke. Offensively, Jamison was pretty non-existent in the Final Four, averaging 5.5 points per game. But his defensive prowess did not go unnoticed. Noted college basketball pundit Dick Vitale named him to his All-Defensive team for the 1991 NCAA tournament.

Jamison’s senior season was again productive (10 ppg/4.6 rpg/83 steals) but KU floundered in the tournament, losing embarrassingly in the round of 32 to Texas-El Paso.

Since he left Kansas, Jamison has pursued coaching. After years of coaching at the high school level, Jamison made the jump to the collegiate ranks in 2011 when he took over the program at Bethel College in Fort Newton, Kansas. Jamison coached the Threshers for three seasons before calling it quits after the 2013-14 season.